By Liz Kohman

04/21/06  -  Saint Cloud Times

The "Ghostbusters" theme song is scary enough, but to hear it through speakers connected to an empty CD player " now that's just creepy. It's one of the unexplainable events that brought a couple of paranormal investigators to the Skatin' Place for a little research. The roller rink is one of the ghost lore-filled places featured in "Minnesota Road Guide to Haunted Locations," which came out earlier this month.

"Skating rinks are weird on their own," said Chad Lewis, a paranormal expert and author who researched the Skatin' Place. "But then you throw in all these (experiences)."

Lewis and his co-author/paranormal expert Terry Fisk, who live in Wisconsin, gathered stories from Skatin' Place employees and customers, who said they had seen video games and lights turn on and off by themselves, heard doors slamming when no one was around, heard footsteps on the roof and strange crackling noises. One skater saw a face in a vent, but when employees checked, there was nothing there.

"There's been strange things happening with the lights and people running across the ceiling," said Jon Jackson, who has owned the Skatin' Place since 1985.

The ghost lore surrounding the rink involves a young boy, "Gilbert," who supposedly drowned in swamps the Skatin' Place was later built over.

Whenever something strange happens at the rink, Jackson and employees joke that Gilbert must have been up to something.

The researchers said they couldn't find anything to verify that a boy drowned on the property. But that doesn't concern Lewis, 31, who has traveled around the world researching paranormal events but never had a paranormal experience of his own.

"It's frustrating," Lewis said. Yet lack of paranormal proof hasn't convinced him that ghosts, aliens and other unexplainable things don't exist.

"For (people who've seen the paranormal) it's a reality," said Lewis, who has a master's degree in applied psychology and works as a grant writer for his "real job."

Lewis and Fisk try not to pass judgment or jump to conclusions. Instead they research events, trying to gather stories, video footage and other evidence.

During the year they spent researching Minnesota haunts, the duo came up with enough material to fill three or four books, Lewis said. They chose locations that were open to the public and had recent activity.

Lewis said people often open up when they hear about his paranormal investigations.

"Normally the reaction is 'Wow! Let me tell you the story I have,' "Lewis said. "People always believe nobody has had the experience they've had."

Haunted places

According to local legend, ghosts have frequented these places:

  • D.B. Searle's, 18 Fifth Ave. S.

  • Pioneer Place on Fifth, 22 Fifth Ave.

  • St. Cloud Times, 3000 Seventh St. N.

  • St. Cloud State University: James W. Miller Learning Resource Center, Lawrence Hall, Shoemaker Hall and North Shoemaker Hall.

For a complete list of haunted locations in Minnesota, visit www.unexplainedresearch.com.

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